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As the leaves turn…

The seasons are shifting. Soon the Historical Village museum will close for the summer. Volunteers will cover the exhibits until next Spring when the museum opens again. But the museum closing for the winter months doesn’t mean there isn’t activity in the Historical Village. As you can imagine, there are plenty of things happening.

On Friday, September 3rd at 10am will be the Board meeting for the Tobacco Valley Board of History in the old schoolhouse. Please feel free to drop by to learn more about what we are doing and/or hear about ways you can help us maintain the Village.

Friday, September 10 from 10am to 3pm is when the quilters meet and will continue to get together every Friday through the winter to hand quilt. It is a wonderful group and open to new people whether you are an experienced quilter or just starting out wanting to learn more. Bring a bag lunch. We have needles and thimbles to loan and, of course, have the coffee pot on. This gathering takes place in the old schoolhouse.

With the museum in the Fewkes Store closing for the season, our online store will open up again. Quilts, pine needle baskets, books about the Tobacco Valley, scrubbies, paintings of the Historical Village and much more are available online. You can pay by credit card and then arrange to pick up your purchases or we can ship them to you if you live out of the area. Just go to our website https://tobaccovalleyhistory.org/ and click on ‘shop’. The online store will open on September 10.

A shout out to all the wonderful volunteers who helped this summer. Docents kept the museum open seven days a week throughout the summer under the superb supervision of Bev and Darris. Robin and his crew made repairs to make sure everything in the Historical Village was in working order. Alice gathered a wonderful group who replaced the screen cages in each of the buildings as well as painted the interior of the old schoolhouse. Thanks to everyone who put in time to keep this very special place in good condition and accessible to the public.

Lilacs are starting to bud

The weather is turning Montana Spring beautiful. The old schoolhouse isn’t as chilly in the mornings now when the women show up to quilt. We have been working on a couple quilts that will probably take us to the end of the season. Both lovely colors and fabrics, both mostly easy to sew, both require a fair amount of stitching. Outside of the schoolhouse, volunteers are starting to work on various projects. Building storm windows, replacing torn screens, rebuilding the back of the caboose, checking the boardwalk for boards that might need to be replaced before too many summer visitors show up.

Rendezvous Days will be coming up on April 24th so that is always an exciting time to be at the Historical Village. The buildings won’t be open this year but there will be many vendors set up, and live music across at Riverside Park. Of course if you ever need to check out what the quilters have available for sale, you can go to our online shop anytime or stop by on Fridays before the middle of May. The quilters will put their needles, thimbles and threads away for the summer then when the old schoolhouse resumes it appearance as part of the museum.

Lots to look forward to so be sure to mark your calendar. The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is all day on August 7th and Shakespeare in the Parks (this year’s play is Cymbeline) is the evening of August 19th.

Moving through February

It might seem like a middle-of-winter and not much is happening time but that is not true at all when it comes to the Historical Village. Despite the very cold temperatures we’ve been having lately in the Tobacco Valley, the women continue to meet every Friday to quilt from 10:00am – 3:00pm. And yes, if you want to join us either as an experienced quilter or as a novice, you are certainly welcome. It has been an interesting season for the quilts we worked on – four tied ones for the staff at Eureka Healthcare, a lovely burgundy and green one Sally pieced which sold to a woman in New York, two art quilts Rita put together for a project on the pandemic, and a beautiful one made with vintage fabrics Kathy Ingram brought in to have quilted.

Besides Friday quilting, members are also constantly adding things to our online store. We decided to keep it open at least until summer so if you are in the market for a baby quilt, books about the Tobacco Valley, bright potholders or scrubbies, hand embroidered tea towels or pillow cases, or even large quilts (either tied or hand stitched), check out our store online. Just go to the Tobacco Valley Board of History website.

And despite the cold temps and gray skies, we are thinking of Spring when more people begin passing through the Historical Village. Thanks to partial support from the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation, we purchased two new picnic tables that will be ready to replace a couple that have seen better days. And now volunteers are working to get storm windows for the old school house building. These will make it so much easier to keep the building warm next winter when the women are quilting. Special thanks to the EMQS Foundation for facilitating that project. And we have an awesome team of new volunteers who will help repair the ceiling in the old church, repair windows in the Baney House, and offered to help repair the boardwalk. Thanks to all of you who stepped up to keep the Historical Village in great shape. In May, it seems the quilters will be featured in a Backroads of Montana episode! This is a wonderful program on Montana PBS. We will certainly get the word out when we know the date and time.

If you want to be part of keeping our community’s heritage alive, don’t hesitate to attend our next board meeting on March 5 at 10:00am in the old school house. We can always use help with a wide range of tasks from social media, to archives, to fundraising.

We call it home

Recently the quilters at the Historical Village got some press. There was a wonderful article in Montana Arts Council’s State of the Arts quarterly newspaper. Locals who saw the articles were thrilled. And even some folks from out of the area read about these hard-working women. There were various follow-up conversations about the quilters and what they do, which got us thinking more seriously about why we are excited for the press, what exactly is our story?

There have been women quilting at the Historical Village since the mid 1970s. It would be hard to imagine how many stitches have been done in that amount of time. Let’s just say countless. Of course, the women enjoy getting together on Fridays to quilt, share ideas and laughter, but they also realize their goal is to preserve the Historical Village. They do this with the money they raise through their quilting, with the information about the valley they share with each other and the visitors who stop by, and with maintenance of all the archives under the care of the Tobacco Valley Board of History.

And this is what they have been guardians of for nearly fifty years. So if you stop by the Historical Village today, you see buildings that have been well maintained. You can ask for photos and we will go through our files to find one that shows Fortine in the early 1900s or the first saw mill in the valley. You can bring your children to the museum in the summer to see examples of things you or your parents or your grandparents used. And recently we updated our collection of over two hundred oral histories (taped interviews and some written transcripts). You can think of us as the Keepers of the Hearth.

But is that our story? Or is that just who we are? The story for us at this moment in time seems to be a mystery – who will continue to keep this hearth burning bright in the future? There is lots of support for our membership drive and we are very appreciative of the money people donate to help the Historical Village with expenses. But there needs to be a treasurer to handle that money, and a secretary to deal with paperwork. Who can arrange for ground maintenance in the summer, shovel snow in the winter or find volunteers for trash pick-up? Are there individuals who want to sit around on Fridays listening to stories so they will be able to pass them on thirty years from now?

If you read our story, it involves searching for clues, talking with a stranger in some dark cafe, tracking down information to solve the mystery of who will be the keepers in the future of this place we call home. Do we follow bread crumbs? Take hints from Lois Lowry’s young adult novel, The Giver? Perhaps find clues in Robert Putnam’s lament about the decline of social capital? Any help to solve this mystery will be greatly appreciated.

Lilacs are blooming

Just enough going on that it made sense to let you know.  First a loud ‘hurrah!!’ for selling our beautiful Piano Keys quilt online.  This is the first time we attempted this sort of sale for one of our own quilts, but as we missed our winter fundraiser (The Wardens concert) apianokeys5nd our May rummage sale, we needed to try something new. We announced the quilt for sale on Facebook to see if it would sell. And it did!  It was an awesome experience as there was so much interest – not only in the Tobacco Valley but across the country.  We are encouraged to try in again, perhaps once a year depending on our quilt production.  Sincere thanks to everyone who showed enthusiasm, asked for photos, expressed interest and – to the fine person who bought it.  The photo shows the women quilting during the winter.  Quite the beauty – measured 100″ x 100″ when done.  Very special thanks to CathrynCathryn (pictured below) who finished quilting it after we stopped meeting as a group in March, and to Lynda who did  all 400″ of binding on it.

And as we move into the summer season at the Historical Village, we are being cautious about keeping our community and our volunteers healthy and safe.  We have currently postponed opening the museum, planning to announce dates in June. So please stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful park down at the Historical Village. Please remember to leave it as tidy as you find it. Thanks.

 

try something new

It does seem the ideal time to think about trying new things.  No doubt there are people out there who make New Year’s resolutions to learn a new language or take up skiing or make Cha Siu Bao (pork dumplings) and actually manage to do it.  We can take this as a sign that it is never too late to learn a skill, to take a different path, to try something new.  Many of our quilters are fine examples of this.IMG_2068

Recently we began to set up the next quilt we will be working on.  We had carefully put together the frame and measured to be sure to center the fabric for the quilt back.  Tacked the fabric all around and then realized the back had been pieced.  There was a seam down the middle but it hadn’t been ironed flat.  A detail we were determined to correct despite numerous sighs that this would require untacking the fabric in order to take it off to iron. Then Cathy and Lynda had the brainstorm to iron the backing while it was on the frame.  Although some of us scoffed at this idea, they actually managed to do it and do it well.

Although we have been around long enough to realize that not everything is possible – there are quite a lot of things that are which are worth trying.  As we begin 2020, we hope you consider trying something new to support your community and help yourself along the way.  We all certainly have a lot of potential waiting to be put to good use.

Upcoming events:

January 3 10am at Historical Village – Board of History meeting. Public welcome

March 14 4pm at Lodgecraft Building (Eureka) The Wardens Concert!

Quilting every Friday 10am – 3pm at the old school house in the Historical Village.

 

 

And then it was fall

All at once the summer finished up and today the museum at the Historical Village will close for winter.  The quilters met last week at the old school house to begin their season.  They set up the first quilt to work on, a lovely Dresden plate design that belongs to a woman in Oklahoma.  After discussion about which pattern to use for quilting, we settled down to sew.  We hadn’t met as a group since the middle of May so our needles and thimbles felt a bit rusty but in no time at all we were in the flow.rafflequilt2020

A woman in Rollins, MT won last year’s raffle quilt. A lovely lavender one pieced by Vivian Vanleishout and quilted by the women at the Historical Village. This year’s raffle quilt is one of my favorites.  Each of the quilters made 2-4 unique blocks from various shades of blue and rose that Sally selected. After piecing them together, the fun began as each block needed to be quilted differently.  Raffle tickets go on sale soon and then next August at the county fair, a lucky winner will be selected.  It could be you (if you buy the right ticket). You are certainly welcome to stop by the old school any Friday between 10am – 3pm to see this special quilt.

As you put together your schedule for the upcoming season, you want to keep in mind a few important dates.  On Wednesday, November 27, the Tobacco Valley Board of History will have a Pint Night at HA Brewery.  A dollar for every beverage sold will be donated for maintenance of the Historical Village.  Always a fun evening (this is our third annual!) with a huckleberry pie to raffle and great music. Be sure to come out to enjoy the evening with us.

On March 14, another great fundraiser is a concert in Eureka featuring The Wardens, an awesome Canadian band who performed here in 2018.  Songs and stories of the backwoods, wildlife and life as a ‘government cowboy’ will fill the evening.  The concert starts at 4pm; tickets available at the door. More details to follow.

And just in case you live in the Tobacco Valley and are interested in learning to hand quilt or volunteering, know we would be glad to see you.  Stop by the school house in the Historical Village on Fridays when we are quilting to find what you might do.

Getting serious sort of

Where does summer go?  In northwest Montana, the season whizzes by with days at the lake, out of town guests, the rodeo, the quilt show, the county fair, the garden, E4A55F53-3248-4750-B461-F2B5E3CE0CEFhuckleberry picking, and those other activities that you might fall into depending on your inclination.  There was fishing and hiking, the Patsy Cline play which was a winner, getting a start on firewood, putting up pickles, and family reunions.  Did you see this year’s Shakespeare in the Park?  Run in the annual Roodell race?  Eat pancakes to support the Animal Shelter (July event) or the RiverWalk (August event)?

Now as we teeter on the end of summer and the beginning of fall, there is a mad scurry to get things in order.  Kids return to school, the firewood does need to be gotten in and all those last minute outdoor projects finished up.  Maybe if you are retired, you start thinking about a visit to Glacier Park or some long distance traveling around the country when vacation spots aren’t as crowded.  Or for young parents, maybe it is just a relief to have a regular schedule again as the school year begins.

Perhaps after the flurry of summer, you think about changes you want to make this coming fall/winter.  It might be time to consider taking up a new hobby.  The quilters at the Historical Village begin meeting on Fridays starting in September.  Stop by if you want to learn to hand quilt or even how to tie a quilt.  Or maybe you decided now is the time to become more involved with this community.  The Historical Village has numerous events that can use volunteer help: rummage sales, book sales, Pint Night at HA Brewery, the holiday bazaar and our winter music fundraiser. Or perhaps as we slip into fall and winter weather, you are looking for some good reads about this region.  Now is a perfect time to stop by the Historical Village museum to pick up books by local authors or ask for suggestions.  The museum store closes for the season on September 2 so don’t put it off. Here are a few titles to get you started:

“Indian Trials of the Northwest Rockies” Darris Flanagan

“The Montana Christmas Tree Story: A Historic Saga of Boom and Bust” Darris Flanagan

“Tobacco Valley” Gary Montgomery

“The Book of Yaak” Rick Bass

“The Wolverine Way” Douglas Chadwick

Summer in the Village

IMG_1222 2Stop by for a picnic or to bring out of town guests.  Spend time exploring the museum. Let the kids play and climb on the old caboose.  Stop by the old Fewkes Store in the Historical Village to pick up gifts, souvenirs, a special something for yourself or for a friend.  There are baby quilts, books about the Tobacco Valley, post cards, pine needle baskets, tea towels, tied quilts and others that are sewn with tiny stitches.  There are scrubbies that are great for doing dishes and art bags for children.  There is handmade jewelry as well as greeting cards.  And the proceeds from anything you buy goes towards helping to maintain the Historical Village.

You might wonder what sort of expenses pile up with this group of old buildings, the stretch of lawn under shady trees.  The Historical Village is fully maintained by donations and volunteer labor. This summer alone we are looking at renovations to the bell tower on the old school house, oiling the logs of the Baney House, and starting work on the fire lookout.  Of course there is also lawn maintenance, keeping the bathrooms in good shape and the utility bills paid.  The Historical Village gets a lot of use in the summer – thousands of folks when you count all the visitors who stop by (the museum is open everyday from 1:00 – 5:00pm) and special events.  Shakespeare in the Park performs here on July 30 and the Eureka Montana Quilt Show happens on August 3.

We hope you have time to enjoy the Historical Village this summer.  There really is an awful lot here to take in.

Change of seasons

The volunteers were out to do a Spring cleaning at the Historical Village in mid April.  Now we are finishing up our last quilt so the old school house can be prepared for summer visitors.  Of course first there will be our annual rummage sale on May 18th.  And then the second graders from the Eureka elementary school will visit the Village in mid May to learn about their heritage in the Tobacco Valley.  But then we will be poised to throw wide the doors for the summer season.  Volunteer docents will have the buildings open and be available to answer questions every single day of the summer starting IMG_1227on May 25th.  Yes, it might surprise you that there are enough volunteers in this small town to have the Historical Village museum open everyday of summer from 1:00 – 5:00pm.  But it is true.  This is a remarkable community where people care enough to put in volunteer time as needed.

Of course this isn’t meant to dissuade you if you were thinking to offer help.  Needless to say there are always things to be done at the Historical Village from trimming shrubbery to painting walls, litter patrol to helping with our events.  And we hope to expand the roster of events at the Historical Village this summer to bring in speakers for demonstrations and talks.

Oh! Just in case you have your calendar handy, you might want to mark July 30 when Shakespeare in the Park performs “Merry Wives of Windsor” in the Village.  And the following weekend is the Eureka Montana Quilt Show on August 3rd.  The Historical Village looks absolutely lovely draped with all those beautifully colored quilts. You won’t want to miss it.